Volume 46, Issue 10 - November 2011


by Lyle R. Hill

It was a slow morning and, while I wasn’t particularly involved with anything of importance, I still waited until the phone had finished its third ring to answer it. I offered up my usual salutation and then quickly recognized the growl on the other end of the line. Feared by many and trusted by none, it was the unmistakable voice of Johnny “The Mooch” Rago.

“Listen Mooch, I’m really busy today so whatever it is you’re calling about, can you keep it short and get right to the point?”

“Okay, Hill, I’ll get right to it. You see, as much as I hate to admit this, I need your help.”

“You know, Mooch, the words need my help usually means you’re looking for money and I gotta tell you that I’m just not in a position to give you any.”

“You got me all wrong, Hill. I don’t want any money. I want you to write something for me.”

“Like an alibi or something?”

“No, nothing like that, Hill. I need you to write an introduction for my new book.”

“You’ve written a book, Mooch? About what? Wait … let me guess … something about evidence disposal, witness intimidation or perhaps your area of expertise … extortion?”

“No, Hill, it’s a business book. You know, I’ve lived a long time and learned a lot of stuff out on the street, not to mention the stuff I picked up while residing in a certain type of government-funded residential establishment, if you know what I mean, and it dawned on me that we are teaching our young people a lot of the wrong things. So, in these tough economic times, I now feel it is my duty to straighten certain things out. You know, dispel the myths so to speak. And because you’re the only guy I know who ever had a real job, the kind they actually take taxes out of your paycheck for, I thought you would be perfect for writing the intro for my book.”

“And exactly what do you intend to call this book?”

“I’m going to call it MOOCHENOMICS … Time for the Truth.”

“I see. And you say that your goal is to straighten out a lot of the old misconceptions or erroneous teachings of the past. Is that it, Mooch?”

“Exactly, Hill. The world is passing us by and our young business people need to know the truth before it’s too late. We have not prepared them for the realities of the business world and time is running out.”

“And somehow you feel that you are the one to give this so-called truth to them?”

“Yes, I am. Let me give you an example. There is the old saying supposedly from Confucius himself that says ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’ and I say ‘Choose a job that makes the most bucks and you’re gonna want to work every day of your life.’ You know why I say this, Hill?”

“Why, Mooch?”

“Cause there’s a whole bunch of people who took jobs doing what they liked and today they’re broke and out of work because everybody wants a fun job and not only don’t they not pay well but they usually don’t last very long either. My advice, always go for the green, and I’m not talking about energy conservation.”

“Well, I guess that’s an interesting point of view, Mooch. Do you have any more of these?”

“Glad you asked, Hill. Remember the old Greek saying (by the philosopher Garbis, I think) that says ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you will feed him forever?”

“Yes, I think I do remember hearing that one. From Garbis himself in fact.”

“This is terrible advice, Hill … ‘If a man is hungry and you’ve got a fish, sell it to him. If he has no money and you are feeling generous, give him some of it, but don’t under any circumstances show him how to fish because he won’t need you anymore and will most likely become your competitor.’ Odds are he’ll forget you helped out anyway.”

“You know, Mooch, I’m starting to see where you’re going with this, although I’m not sure that I agree with your approach. But let me ask you a question. I’ve heard it said that ‘cash is the king’ and I’ve heard it said that ‘the customer is the king,’ so which is it?”

“Hill, you’re an amateur. Of course cash is the king … have you ever tried stuffing a customer into your pants pocket?”

“I see. Okay, Mooch, I’m pretty sure I’m not your guy, but are there any more of these Moochisms that you might want to share before I hang up on you?”

“Well, not everything in the book is my own original thinking. I do quote some of history’s greatest business leaders.”

“Like who, Mooch?”

“Like Al Capone, for instance. It was old Scarface himself that said ‘You can get so much further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.’ Of course one of my all-time favorites came from Baby Face Nelson when he said ‘If you know you’re going to be in a fight, make sure you bring the biggest gun.’ Hill, these are great lines from guys who were very successful in their business dealings. We need to learn from them.”

“Mooch, this stuff is not for the upright, honest, ethical businessperson of today. This is for the conniving, lying, cutthroat, me-first-everybody-else-last person who is so interested in getting ahead that they don’t care who they step on or hurt.”

“So you won’t help me, Hill?”

“No, I won’t, Mooch, and do you really think you can sell such a book?”

“Yes, I do, Hill. And my first customers will be those people marching around Wall Street claiming they want to occupy it. You see, once they read my book, they’re gonna know how!”

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. Hill has more than 40 years experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com. You can read his blog on Wednesdays at www.usgnn.com.

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